If one can count their wealth in friends, then Patty Larkin is rich indeed. For this unique release, she chose 25 of her best love songs, then invited 25 musical friends to participate in re-recording them in order to celebrate 25 years as an artist. In a two-disc format, you'll find a virtual who's who of North American folk music: Bruce Cockburn, David Wilcox, Willy Porter, Suzanne Vega, John Gorka, Janis Ian, Chris Smither, the list goes on and on and on. FAME readers will be quite cognizant of everyone involved.
The whole idea of the original artist re-doing his or her own work has always been an entrancing one, cover songs by the composer as it were, because, like writers, musicians are forever critiquing their own materials, wishing they'd tweaked this, added that, or dropped something else. Thus, CDs like 25 let the listener and the fan in on the evolution of thought in the artistic mind. Well, the key word is always refinement or re-edition, and that's the big attraction here, especially when you lay an ear to Larkin's gorgeous re-do of one the last few decades' most beautiful songs, Open Arms, dueted by the sterling Bruce Cockburn.
Every cut in the bonanza anthology is acoustic and "unplugged" (meaning there's a bit of light amplification here and there). Some, like the articulately inarticulate and bizarrely cynical Italian Shoes, feature just backing vocals from the guest, in this case Janis Ian, but it's exactly the right amount of exposure in every track that makes each appearance so sweet. Which, of course, is what makes Larkin such an excellent composer and lyricist. Her word clusters are like her bars and measures: just enough to keep opening up but never so much that the story ends. Even those familiar with everything in this cornucopia will have reason to rush out and buy 25; those uninitiated will very quickly join the ranks of the devotees.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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